Struggling with recovery

Hi there. I am new to this site and wondered if anyone could offer any advice? I left the services 5 years ago after they treated me really badly and caused me extra trauma in my life, however, it was the best thing I ever did and a year later had entered recovery, although, slowly and at my pace. I am a 44 year old female and spent 11 years of in and out of hospital admissions to no avail so I have to do this the only way I feel I can manage. The weight gain is very slow nevertheless is present. I am now struggling to stop eating and it's really making my life quite tough. I am finding my mood getting lower and lower. I am not eating loads but it feels like i am and can't restrict anymore even if i wanted to. it's really scared and feels it could go the other way. I Have lots of other health problems and that includes gynae. The eating is worse around my period but literally I feel like I am eating but nothing fills me up. I don't eat bulky meals because I find being bloating sets of all sorts of bad thoughts so I have my food in smaller quantities. I have other issues such as breathlessness and knee problems but they r being dealt with, however, means I can't do any exercise at all and i just feel like I'm eating and eating and gaining and gaining with no benefits. When I was eating less and weighing less I didn't have all these physical problems. Literally something new seems to occur physically all the time and it's making me so angry. I'm tired all the time which no one can pin point but just blame my weight, which I know is not the reason. Everyone told me when I started to get better my life would improve but I am not seeing any benefits of putting myself through this misery everyday. Sorry to winge. I don't have anyone to talk to as frank as this and I hope my post doesn't upset anyone else. I just feel quite lonely and like it's not worth the battle. I've spent so long getting to where I am now but honestly I thought I'd feel fitter. Be back at work. Making friends maybe a boyfriend etc but nothing it's eating, sleep and illness :-(. Just wondered if this is normal or if anyone else has experienced anything similar.

Thanks so much for reading. I'm not a negative person and always see the positives but just somedays are really hard to push through.


Farli xxxxx

So. Also, my gynae has decided to back to back my pill and now I'm so bloated that I can't do my jeans up and I feel like I wana cry. Everything feels really messy right now :-(

18 Replies

  • Hi Farli. You certainly sound like you are feeling a little overwhelmed with it all at the moment, so it is good that you posted here. Well done! Firstly, I want to say that feeling worse when you start to eat better and gain weight is normal - and one of the reasons why getting better can be so difficult! Two reasons for this - the body gets used to being a low weight as a survival strategy, physiological processes like digestion slow down, and it takes a while for this to change. Secondly, being at a low weight tends to numb the emotions so once you eat better and gain weight the emotions resurface. That is why psychological support can be so important as one gains weight.

    Also, increased hunger and tendency to overeat/binge can happen during this stage - the body's way of getting the food it has not been getting. But it is obviously not the ideal way to gain weight. Look at your eating plan to see how often you are eating protein, as protein turns off hunger. Aim for 2-3 portions a day.

    Get your GP to check you out for anaemia as this may be contributing to tiredness. Protein will help here too as it is generally a good source of iron. But it may be that tiredness is just part and parcel of the phase you are at. If so, listen to what your body is saying and take it easy for a while!

    Finally, I would hazard a guess that you might really benefit from support around all of this. It is a really big, important thing you are doing, and so it would be a sign of your strength if you were able to get some face to face support during it all. I wonder if part of you is scared to do this because in the past it has felt like others have been in control, not you. In fact, it was your anorexia that sounds like it was in control! But it sounds like you are in a different place now, so give some thought to getting some support.

    Hope my thoughts help! And good luck with your continued recovery!

  • Hi Helen_Therapist.

    Thanks so much for your response. It's very kind of you to reply. Thanks for your words of encouragement it means so much as I don't really get much of that. My family are great but they tend to see the things I am not achieving rather than the things I am, however, I know how difficult AN is to understand to others and I make allowances for that though doesn't make it easy to get through alone. I will try the protein idea. All my bloods r normal and have been tested for everything including Anemia so the GP told me to eat more carbs. I did that for a while (which was extremely hard) but to no avail so I will try the protein side. I do have it at lunch and dinner maybe not enough I'm not sure. It would be good to have a therapist but things were so bad in the services I needed therapy to get over what they had done to me. It was truly a bad time and a complaint to the gmc occurred so I don't feel able to put myself back into that surrounding but I will maybe talk to my new GP as she is lovely. I do have low estrogen so that's the only other thing I can imagine is causing this tiredness but my gynae has back to backed my pill to see if this helps so I will wait 2 cycles if I can. A few of my friends with AN are either not in recovery or not at a weight I'm at or not eating the structure and variety that I am and they all have partner, social life and are able to work so I guess that's why I feel so angry about recovery and let down by it. Thanks for the information you have kindly passed on to me. I think I will see the dr and just have a chat. I think u r right that I definitely need a shoulder atm and she is really nice and interested in AN.

    Thanks again i do appreciate the time you have taken to reply and I hope you are ok. :-)

  • You are welcome Farli. It sounds like seeing your GP would be a really good thing to do, perhaps for a few times whilst things feel so difficult. She could think with you about how to find other additional sources of support that are helpful rather than traumatising too. I guess I am wondering whether private therapy of some sort might be something to consider?

    Good luck again - and just try to remember that it won't always feel this bad!

  • Ah thanks so much for all your help and yes private therapy is on my list to see how expensive it would be. I will talk to the GP and see what she can offer. Thanks again for your kind words and I will keep them in mind.

    Thanks again


  • You are certainly not alone..I am around your age..I think at our ages the body starts going through changes so the eating disorder takes more of a toll on our bodies than we we were younger. At 92 lbs my body felt fine when I was in my 20s but this is no longer the case. One of people who replied said that the disorder numbs the feelings...this is very true and the purpose of an eating disorder. Please seek therapy. For me prayer and meditation helps me and focusing on everything positive in my life and my good qualities as a person. after 15 years of what i thought was recovery i then relapsed and lost 57lbs..but .started seeking help. I am very bloated too as i have a history of gyn problems and multiple pelvic sugeries. Even though my abdomen is swollen now i I have not gained weight as the number on the scale remains the same.It just seems that way due to other. Medical problems. I have started to incorporate healthy food choices and started to look and feel better. It is not about the number on the scale instead it is about your body feeling healthy. So Try to remember it is ok to eat but stick to healthy foods. I also think a support group could help you. Remember you are not alone feeling this way...don't stop eating because how you feel. Try to deal with negative feelings instead of using food or lack of it to make you feel better..just don't give up.....and hang in there please. People on this forum are all here for your support .

  • Hi,

    Ah thank you so much. So nice to hear similar stories and from people similar age. It makes it much harder as there's not really any support for older people. I was wondering if that was the case being that I'm older and my body just can't deal with it like It used to. I used to go out and do all the normal things even when I was really underweight and not eating anything and yet now it feels it's causing me more problems eating than not but as u say it is probably the age thing. I'm going to see my go this week even for a chat. I just feel quite angry & and the feelings r unbearable and there's no one around to talk to or cry with. You guys have been so helpful and a saving grace just knowing I have someone that knows what its like. Im a positive person usually and like you, I focus on the things that r great in my life. I guess I love life so much and trying to live like this is so hard. My abdomen is the same and also the scales have not changed so I know it's gynae prob. I will speak to my ob g soon. You are so right and I should keep eating through the feelings and I know I need someone to support me through it. Was doing fine until now but it's getting harder and I'm getting more and more depressed I. Guess that's the nature of this illness ! I can't thank you enough for sharing your story and your thoughts. I do really appreciate it and I can only wish for you success and love during your journey. You've really helped me. Thank u so much :-) x

  • You're welcome. Reading these posts gives me some comfort to know that there are others out there just like me. Let us all remain positive and not give in this disorder.

  • Yes definitely ! It's nice to be able to push through it with other people who are going through the same thing. Keep up the fight together. We can ! Thanks again so much, you have been really lovely and helped me a lot just knowing I'm not the only one . :-)

  • Hi,

    It is good for you to be able to share your problems. I'm a bit older than you (mid-50s) and have other medical issues including damage due to lack of food. I would like to encourage you to carry on with a step by step increase in your food intake.

    As I read your message my immediate thought was that perhaps eating more protein will help. It will help satisfy your hunger without binging.

    It is very natural to want to eat more as we start to gain weight. The body is essentially starving when we lose a lot of weight or have insufficient food. As indicated above the body adapts but low weight DOES DO REAL DAMAGE - I know and regret the mess I have got into.

    I found specialist Eating Disorders treatment actually made my eating disorder worse. Instead I have been slowly increasing what I eat and to improve the quality of the food too. It is possible to get healthier this way and if done in a regular and measured way will not lead to dramatic weight gains. It is safe to add more food gradually but it does need to be worked at!

    I hope this helps - you aren't alone.

  • Hi Anniephys

    Thank you so much for replying you really don't know how much it means especially as we around the same age group. I think you are very right and the Damage has finally taken it's toll. I have so many medical issues it's unreal and no energy whatsoever. Like you, services made me much worse so I decided after 11 years to go it alone but wow it's hard. My food and weight has been increasing albeit very slow but this year I'm finding the increase over the last 3 months unbearable and yet I feel hunger all the time and that is a nightmare but what you're saying makes sense. I guess once you start eating your body wants more-maybe that's why im so hungry all the time :-( feels like I couldn't stop eating even if I wanted to. I just feel horrible atm but try and tell myself it's ok and it's AN making me feel that way but it's still real I guess. I will carry on and seek a little chat with my GP, she is really lovely. I think one problem is that ive been gaining weight but not changed size in clothing and I feel it's about to happen and I don't know how to deal with it. I feel ashamed when I should feel pleased ! Part of it I guess is people not knowing I'm struggling so much as apposed to when i was severely underweight I had so much support but now I look normal no one seems that bothered tbh. I feel like I can't breathe sometimes. The feelings are so strong. I will do what u have suggested with the protein and like you will increase slowly and with a range of foods. Thank u so much and wish you every success on your journey and if there is anything I can ever help with. I'm here. Your post has been invaluable and I can't thank u enough. Please take care and thanks again :-)

  • Hello

    You are fighting every minute of every day that is mentally exhausting. I know. I am at that stage too.

    I have had great support frkm a psychologist I suggest you ask to be referred to one to help you. Loads of stuff scarey, weird and totally crazy abd sone amazing stuff has resurfaced for me and I am constantly tempted to go back to my old ways because I now see how effective my behaviours were at keeping all this stuff at bay and entering my consciousness for 30 odd years!!! You will need all the strength you have to keep dealing with all that and feeling fat and the voice in you tempting you to starve and over exercise, vomit etc etc. That is draining. ..very draining.

    Then there is the physical side carrying around weight you're not accustomed to. It's all just life forming deep inside stirring and moving...signs of life emerging as you grow and learn and move towards blessings and a real genuine future. A future that is really alive and living and breathing rather than just existing. It has just occurred to me that life as an anorexic is life paused... you're breathing but not realy alive you survive with fronts. ..acting. ..being and doing what others want you to be and you do it to avoid conflict and well you don't know who you are tge only identity you truly have is the ed that miht be the only bit if true you true identity you have. Changing and finding out who you are what you like or want is scarey for anyone but when you've held on to the idea everything would be ok If you were thinner and you have so many behaviours and rituals that make doing that do hard ut is virtually impossible. I am 38 and I can tell you This recovery lark is hard beyind hard words cannot express how hard I just know my old ways were numbing and a walk in the park compared to this!!!

    I just get told I am strong. ..keep will be worth it by my very bossy (in a nice way. ..I think) psychologist so now I'm telling you the same. I don't expect you to 100% believe me but a bit of you might. I don't always believe her when she says it to me but weirdly and involuntarily, some bit of my brain actually listens to her and gets it in some level that I can't explain.

    This might be iur last chance to recover. My head certainly seemed dure if that 11months ago when I started following goals I was set. .. like you, very slowly and at a pace that was much more manageable than plans I've had previously from specialist help. I know it's not full recovery yet but I am slowly learning to manage even if every mouthful starts off feelings if fatness, guilt, fear and a war in my head. Some days are better than others.

    I'm glad to hear you have family support. It's not been my experience it was (my ed) Was ignored. That might have been great when I was hiding it but in hindsight they just normalised my abnormal eating which made it hard for me to recognise I had a problem because they didn't want to see or admit something was amiss in our family. I'm actually better off without them. I have 2children to fight for and if I can keep going a happy future for all of us.

    Good luck

    It is hard but you are Strong

    Keep going

    And remember apparently it will be worth it!!!


  • Oh and I think that specialist help can be beneficial. But the timing has to be right... forced or necessary treatment will never help at the point where it is forced or necessary because it's a sticking plaster ... it gets some weight on you or guidance however you are actually in no place to cope with it, accept it or utilise it. Harsh treatment I believe is part of the course. I was out if control and heading to my grave YOU have to start making changes because You want to maybe at that point such help could be supportive. But by this point you feel too fat and think you eat like a pig and don't want to ask for more help.

    Getting to the point where you start attempting to eat is the hardest bit. Doing it because of forced or necessary help will never lead to genuine recovery. You just dig yourself deeper into your behaviours and losing weight or lose any weight uou gain asap once free to ho back to your old ways.

    Thankfully I realised I needed to fight . I had to learn to eat.

    Help , i think, is actually much more needed once you are moving away from anoretic behaviours because while you depend on them you will never see you need help. It's your life and coping mechanism and it it ain't broke don't fix it. I knew no different and felt invincible. I guess i subconsciously realised I cannot protect my children and help them grow and adapt to changes as they grow up when I never tackled it myself I woukd give anything for them to live life qbd experience life and not live in the cage I lived in and continue to to some extent.

    Anorexia is a hard and lonely way to live recovery takes much courage and is harder and lonelier but could be the making of us. You need support though...can't stay a one girl army forever.

    I'm lucky to be alive today. It's not been all bad it's a journey and I thank God I was sent to my psychologist. Otherwise I wouldn't be here today. Her belief in me when I have none has proved invaluable. Seek help.

    You will only get so far doing it alone


  • Hi njam

    Thanks so much for replying. Yes this is a very hard journey and for the last 5 yrs have been doing really well with recovery just atm I feel like I want to go back even though I know that won't happen because I won't let it but as u say it's really hard and lonely alone and people only see what they want to c and that's the benefits of being underweight. You have so much support but the minute that changes the support backs off and it's at that very point u need it the most. i had an absolutely awful time in the services for 11 years and my outpatient team really so messed me up so I wouldn't turn to them for support from there again tbh but I am hoping to see my GP Tuesday as she is so lovely and really understands. I think she will be a great help and she really cares rather than the people who have supposedly been looking after me in the past who actually could r care less but at least I can c that now. Then, as u say, I felt dependant on them no matter what they did to me. I don't mean forced treatment or anything it was the way they spoke to me and treated me as a human being. Just despicable really but I'm away from them now and have been doing well since I decided to discharge myself from their 'care'. I am really pleased that you have found someone that u can trust and confide in. It's really important and comforting that someone is there for u no matter what. Sounds like you have a great relationship ! I'm really glad u have that. Also great u have a family to fight for ! My parents r my life as I'm single and I hang on for them really. Each day is such a fight right now. It's only people who go through this who get it. Like really get it. I do feel enormous and like I'm suddenly seen as normal and better and yet it's the most overwhelmed and low I have felt since starting recovery. Guess it's make or break time ! I do wish that I was seeing some benefits of my efforts though, that's what I find so frustrating that I feel so unwell and physically am getting worse not better :-( . that's the issue for me I think. I feel angry I am not having a life and yet I have worked so hard. Nevertheless the fight must go on and hopefully that day will come. I am positive enough most days just having a few rubbish weeks rite now :-( but I don't want a lifetime of anorexia making me feel like this. This illness is so backwards in many ways.

    Anyway I wish for you everything that you want and a fulfilled life ahead with your family. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story. Sometimes it can be really hard to do that. I really do appreciate you taking the time to write to me. This site has been so kind. Can't thank you enough. Take care yourself and anytime I can help, please write :-).

  • Hello again.

    The psychologist and care coordinators I have now are part of the community mental health team. My gp referred me to. I don't actually know if she, the psychologist, is specialist in eating disorders particularly but I know she has treated others from what she has said to me. She is and the care coordinators I have are not seeing me at a specialist unit. 4 care coordinators ago Iwas referred to and saw a specialist team in the community. Things were really bad my husband (we are separated but still under the same roof currently) was keen for impatient care at the time and said he was at his wits end with me. Had they had me I'd have gone just to shut him but it would have been a waste of soon as I have got home I'd have gone back to my old ways. They discharged me aftrt 5 months I think then 4 months later I ended up being sectioned and sent to a psychiatric ward. To be fair I was suicidal it probably kept me safe. I ate what I could but only so I wouldn't get referred on to an ed unit. I just wanted to get home to my children and thinking back now the specialist units stance was always to keep me with my children. It's a very long story but I understand why now. I am a very lucky girl. I am blessed to be alive today. Had I not had the children it may well have been that I'd have ended up as an impatient. I find that idea terrifying and have managed to avoid it my whole 38years. I live by my control and rituals I've increased the food and cut down the exercise and gained some weight but I am still very controlling I guess. I see I have lived in fear if all those things not being in my control and being hospital. Anorexia has been my best friend I've had nothing or no one else. I'd have rather eat and hide it than ever have risked it being taken from me. I now see that was probably foolish. Maybe some earlier intervention might have benefitted me in some way. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though and I'm just grateful I found someone who managed to reach me and help me save myself and hopefully i can be the mummy my children need and deserve.

    I am amazed you've been working on this for 5years. I'm nearly at a year of doing my goals. It amazes me I started at all but the idea things will be this tough still in 5years!!!??? I pray to God it won't be that long or I will snap!!!

    I hope you are nearly there too and I suggest sleep. Not easy I know when you're used to staying busy and active but we were away last week and it all caught up with me i was exhausted si much so that on one day alone I had 4 or 5 naps!!! I'm currently so tired I could sleep standing up!!!. I am "trying" to be kind to myself and rest sometimes. I suggest you do the same. Hopefully your gp can refer you to someone who can support you and believe in you. You've said it and I've heard it a couple of times that I have a good relationship with my psychologist. It kind of throws seems to me I've never had real genuine relationships with anyone not even with my own children until I started coming back to life this last year thanks to her support. It feels like we've met before maybe that has something to do with it. I hope you find an angel to help you. You won't do it all on you're own I know that much. Much of it you have to do by yourself yes and that is pivotal but not all of it. You keep fighting and believe it is possible and you will get all your dreams :o)

    I'm currently very low and stressed and negative fortunately I have a thread of hope and belief that this is my journey and that keeps me going. And that bossy psychologist lol I really don't want to let her down she's the only person I've ever met that has faith, trust, belief in me and when you have none or little in yourself you hang on to that for dear life because it saved me. I hope you find her soon, the one who believes in you or the part of you that does or can and well after 5years you must have, so hats off to you :o)


  • Hi there.

    Well sounds like u've had a journey to get where u r today and tbh it doesn't matter how long it takes or how u decide u want to get there. The end result is what counts and giving urself the life u deserve. Keep doing what ur doing; it sounds like u r going the right way :-). Not sure if il ever give up my controls tbh. When I let them go a bit it all feels to much. So slowly and step by step. I do nothing other than what I can manage as apposed to years of doing what the system could manage and that was basically shoving food into me and gaining ridiculous amounts of weight. That's their idea of recovery. It's certainly not mine. Recovery is so much more than that and really has to be worked at at ur own pace. It's not a race and should have no time constrictions at all. if others don't agree with it or don't like it, well that's their issue. U just keep,seeing ur lady, she sounds amazing and really good for u :-). Take care and Goodluck on ur journey :-) I'm guna try for a GP appointment today but they r few n far between so let's c what happens !! Thanks for all ur help really appreciate it. Farli

  • Did you see the gp?


  • Hi njam

    Unfortunately they had no appointments with my GP even though I called at 8.30 am. I have made a complaint though and they called yesterday to 'explain' & apologise, so I had my say aswell. She has booked me in for the 26th! They don't understand when ur distressed u need someone now not in 2 weeks! Anyway I spoke to my gynae who said to go back to my normal routine with the pill so I'm taking the 4 day break from tomorrow. I hope that will help with the weight side anyway. Thank you so much for thinking about me. That's so sweet of u. Without you guys I think I would have been much worse and resorted back to restricting. Thank u so much again. Tc. :-)

  • Hi njam

    I just wanted to let u no that I saw my go Tuesday and she has referred me to time to talk for an outlet at least. They are not part of the MH system so that makes me feel a lot safer. I also got a cancellation with a medium that I usually see yearly. He is so inspiring and uplifting so the cancellation felt it was meant to be for me. that's just spirituality that I trust so it was a great help. I am also seeing her in a month again so she can monitor how I'm doing mood wise. She was really encouraging and so supportive and it felt nice to have someone recognise my hard work. My medium guy said that the physical always takes longer and that anyone who judges me by my appearance against how I am doing should do 1. He said to take it in my stride and it will happen when the time is right. I still have a lot of unresolved issues and I feel that this weight gain is causing anger and therefore these issues are now coming to the surface and need dealing with. Anyway sorry to waffle I just wanted to let u know as u had previously asked about the GP and I thought u were so kind. I do hope that u r doing ok and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


    Farli :-)

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